2020 Stockdale Leadership Award recipients announced

03 September 2020

From MC1 Mark D. Faram, CNP Public Affairs

Cmdr. Bradley D. Geary, from U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Cmdr. William H. Wiley from U.S. Fleet Forces Command are the recipients of this year's award.

WASHINGTON - The Navy announced Cmdr. William H. Wiley, from U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Cmdr. Bradley D. Geary, from U.S. Pacific Fleet as the recipients of the 2020 James Bond Stockdale Award for inspirational leadership.

The announcement came in NAVADMIN 242/20, Released Sept. 1.

The annual award recognizes commanding officers who demonstrate inspirational leadership both professionally and personally while also contributing to the improvement of leadership in the Navy. It is peer-driven, as only those who are eligible for the award themselves are allowed to nominate others for consideration.

Both officers graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and were commissioned on the same day, May 24, 2000. Wiley is currently in command of the Norfolk-based fast-attack submarine USS John Warner (SSN 785). Geary is former CO of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One (SDVT-1), which he led until July 24, 2020. Geary is currently assigned to Naval Special Warfare Training Command in Coronado, Calif.

First awarded in 1980, the award is named for the late Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale, a Naval Academy graduate and naval aviator. On Sept. 9, 1965, Stockdale was commander of Carrier Air Group 16, flying from the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CV-34). A veteran of over 200 combat missions at the time, Stockdale's A-4E Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire over North Vietnam. Forced to eject, he landed in a small village and was captured.

A prisoner for eight years, Stockdale was the highest-ranking Naval officer among the Americans held captive in North Vietnamese prisons. Leading by example, Stockdale resisted his captors from the start, establishing a culture of defiance among the POW's. He worked against heavy odds to find ways to communicate with other prisoners, continually working to give his fellow captives all hope.

His efforts to promote resistance led to him and ten other senior POWs being separated from the rest to break down the American chain of command among prisoners. Frequently tortured, Stockdale spent two years in heavy leg irons and a total of four years in isolation. He didn't waver. He led the POWs' culture of defiance, finding ways to communicate and govern prisoner behavior, giving all of them hope.

His inspirational leadership continued throughout captivity until his release in February 1973. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976 and served as president of the Naval War College from October 1977 until August 1979.

Stockdale articulated five roles for a leader: moralist, jurist, teacher, steward and philosopher.

Eligible for the award are active duty Navy commanders and below who are serving in command of a single ship, submarine, aviation squadron, Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) team, naval special warfare squadron, SEAL delivery vehicle team, special boat team, explosive ordnance disposal mobile unit, mobile diving and salvage unit, or Navy special clearance team.

This year's selection board was presented with nine finalists, from which the two winners were selected. The other seven finalists deserve special mention:

U.S. Pacific Fleet finalists:

  • Cmdr. Christian R. Nesset, Commanding Officer, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ 134)
  • Cmdr. Patrick J. Sullivan, Commanding Officer, USS McCampbell (DDG 85)
  • Cmdr. Charles C. Litton, Commanding Officer, USS Chicago (SSN 721)

U.S. Fleet Forces finalists:

  • Cmdr. John S. Lucas, former Commanding Officer, USS Bulkeley (DDG 84)
  • Cmdr. Craig M. Trent, Commanding Officer, USS Porter (DDG 78)
  • Cmdr. Judson Mallory, Commanding Officer, USS Lassen (DDG 82)
  • Cmdr. Jean M. Sullivan, Commanding Officer, USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41)

CNP is the Navy's Chief of Naval Personnel.

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